US Withdraws Military Aid From Self-Cannibalizing Asian Country

Joshua Gill | Religion Reporter

The U.S. is withdrawing military assistance from Burma and dropping travel waivers to the U.S. for Burmese military officials because of the Rohingya crisis.

The U.S. Department of State announced Monday that the U.S. will be taking several measures to restrict travel for Burmese military officers involved in violence against the Rohingya, dropping their eligibility for U.S. assistance programs, and will be considering economic sanctions “in pursuit of accountability and an end to violence.”

The decision comes in the wake of what is now almost 1 million Rohingya refugees that have fled to camps in Bangladesh from violence in Rakhine state, according to the BBC. The Burmese military began systematically killing and driving out Rohingya people from Rakhine state in 2016, preceded by violent provocations against the Rohingya, in what UN officials have called “text book ethnic cleansing.” (Related: The World’s Longest Running Civil War Has No End In Sight) 

“At the same time, we express our gravest concern with recent events in Rakhine State and the violent, traumatic abuses Rohingya and other communities have endured. It is imperative that any individuals or entities responsible for atrocities, including non-state actors and vigilantes, be held accountable,” the State Department said.

The U.S. will continue to dismiss JADE Act travel waivers for current and former senior Burmese military leaders, as it has since Aug. 25, and is also exploring economic options to target specific individuals involved in the atrocities in the Rakhine state, to include Global Magnitsky targeted sanctions. The State Department also said the U.S. rescinded invitations to Burmese military officials to attend U.S. sponsored events, and that the U.S. is working to ensure that the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission, the media, and humanitarian organizations are given access to Burma.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Oct. 18 that the U.S. holds the Burmese military responsible for the current crisis, differentiating between military leadership and the elected civilian leadership of Aung San Suu Kyi, according to Reuters.

“Someone, if these reports are true, is going to be held to account for that,” Tillerson said, according to Reuters. “And it’s up to the military leadership of Burma to decide, ‘What direction do they want to play in the future of Burma?'”

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